Can infidelity save a marriage?

4 Types of Infidelity That Can Save Your Marriage

Fox News: Unless you’re inclined towards polyamory, extramarital relations are generally  frowned upon. Monogamy is accepted and expected; infidelity is harmful. Right?  Not so fast, says Michael  J. Formica, a Psychology Today blogger. In a post on the “Enlightened  Living” blog, Formica makes the case that thinking about cheating – and even  stepping out on your sweetie – can potentially help your relationship.

First Formica identifies four basic types of affairs: object affairs, sexual  affairs, emotional affairs and full-blown secondary relationships. In object  affairs the cheating partner neglects the relationship to focus on something  else – work, a video game, an intense involvement in floral arrangement – to the  detriment of his or her love life.

A sexual affair is exactly what it sounds like: the  adulterer rents cheap hotel rooms for sex – but not emotional intimacy. A sexual  affair is strictly about nookie, nothing more.  (I personally disagree with this statement.)

An emotional affair is  when there’s no smooching, but lots of sentiment. You’re spending hours on  IM with someone who’s not your boyfriend, spilling your secrets to a woman who’s  not your wife, turning to someone else instead of your partner in times of need.  Clearly not good for your primary relationship.

The last type of affair  is the traditional kind of cheating, where you have two parallel partnerships  that are both sexual and emotional, and it’s this kind of liaison that  Formica says can actually help a marriage.

First, he says, an affair can  add fizz to a flat partnership – what was once stale gets refreshed by a new  energy. (Exactly how is “affair energy” good for a marriage?)

Second, if you’re having an affair you’re probably doing it  because you’re missing something in your first relationship. If you analyze the affair you might be able to see what it is that you lack, and address that  problem.

Finally, people tend to get into the same kind of  relationship over and over again, but affairs are different – according  to Formica they can be “a more authentic barometer for what we actually need in  our relationships.”

Right about now you’re probably thinking this is one messed up dude who’s  just making excuses for cheating. But Formica qualifies his analysis.

The “good” that might come out of an affair is clearly not the affair or its  potential consequences. But, as I often say, everything is material for  change. If we look at our choices and examine ourselves in an honest and  forthright way, we just might find one of the keys to prompt our own evolution.  That evolution might lead us back to a more authentic relationship with our  primary relationship, or it might lead us to a more authentic understanding of  ourselves that leads us away from that primary relationship. Either way,  there is positive growth.


My own thoughts on this begin with this question: Can a marriage survive an affair?

While I have never  been married, I have been cheated on.  And it HURT.  My best friend’s husband cheated on her after 20 years together.  It was DEVASTATING.

I personally don’t know of any couple whose marriage survived an affair.  Yet there are many women who have chosen to “stand by their man” after an affair, and men whom stay with their cheating wives.

I believe that if you make a choice to get married and examine yourself in an honest and forthright way, you will do all you can to make the marriage work, without seeking out an affair.  Formica might think I’m a little old-fashioned 🙂



33 responses to “Can infidelity save a marriage?

  1. The hell with Formica. I like marble or granite…..(OK, I know, I’ll keep my day job….)


  2. Wonder how understanding he’ll feel when he comes home early one day to find his wife “working on their marriage” with someone else.


  3. It’s just too bad when it gets to the point of cheating.


  4. Formica has nothing new to say that hasn’t been said for thousands of years, so this is just filler material from a contemporary pop psychology magazine. Adultery is much the same as abortion: not really a solution to anything, but seen as a relief from some overwhelming pressure[s]. And like adultery, once done, it cannot be undone. Wait a minute: that can also be said of suicide!


    • What swingers say… before folk develop feelings for someone else and wind up in divorce court. What was his source– Penthouse Letters written by 20- 25 year olds?


      • You make a very important point here, which is the same as I make to my students and young people in the throes of lust: try to remain unmarried until you are thirty. I know that sounds unbearable, but the fact is most of us [90%?] haven’t lived deeply enough to fully develop our personas and create strong self-worth. I’m NOT talking about narcissism here, there’s WAY too much of that already.

        Marriages often fail because they were entered into for frivolous reasons, such as lust, or when the partners become bored w/one another’s limited life history and learning. Humans are the most complicated critter going, and if we don’t understand how that makes us incline toward “solutions” and “choices” that we really don’t fully understand, then we are well and truly in trouble w/o end!


  5. the death of a marraige is a sad thing….they are too often
    adultrated to the point where they are unsustainable


  6. Just another “helpful” hint from the insidious progressives (who ALWAYS have the answers for us all)…as usual, advice meant to further undermine and destroy the family. Yawn.


  7. Ppl just lie these days, and the wicked love to hear it. An affair will strengthen your marriage?? Bring some “sizzle”?? Like having your house set on fire and burned to the ground. There’s some sizzle as your life is in ashes.


  8. Infidelity, will never “save” anything !


  9. Psychology Today “blogger” Michael Formica’s contention goes against every available evidence we have.


    Polls show that although 90% of married people disapprove of extramarital relationships, statistics from a national survey indicate that 15% of wives and 25% of husbands have experienced extramarital intercourse. These numbers increase by 20% when emotional affairs and sexual relationships without intercourse are included. Another source, The Monogamy Myth, authored by Peggy Vaughan, approximates that 60% of husbands and 40% of wives will have an affair at some time in their marriage. …marriage researcher, Zelda West-meads, states that although much adultery is never discovered, “all the evidence points to affairs being on the increase.” These statistics are shocking, but what is even more alarming is that they do not even come close to exposing the strong emotional impact that marital infidelity has on people’s lives…Inconsolable grief and pain,…confusion, anxiety, and sleepless nights…. When all is out in the open, the faithful spouse may survive the nightmare, but his or her scars will not easily heal, and the damage done to the marriage may never be completely repaired. Extra marital affairs can also take its toll in some long-term consequences that both spouses will have to deal with for many years, such as sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.

    Dr. Ana Nogales, “How Children are Impacted by Marital Infidelity”:
    “whether a child is six, sixteen, or twenty-six, when his parents sexually betray each other, he is left with a host of psychological issues that can plague him for the rest of his life….

    More than 800 adult children whose parents were unfaithful responded to our online Parents Who Cheat Survey. 75.7% of respondents reported that they felt betrayed by the parent who cheated. 88.4% felt angry toward their cheating parent. 62.5% felt ashamed or embarrassed to talk about their parent’s infidelity with friends or other people. 80.2% felt that their attitudes toward love and relationships was influenced by their parent having cheated, and 70.5% said their ability to trust others had been affected. 83% stated that they feel people regularly lie.”


    • Good info E!

      Sad though…


    • Agree.


    • Supporting Statistics or not….take it from a child who knows…..the answer is (ALL OF THE ABOVE)! And I was lucky, I have two parents that are Christians and actually stood up and faced the consequences! Ask my husband though…..Trust is not my stronge suit!

      CRAP like this INFURIATES me. Parents you cannot ever undo this after you have done it….your children will pay your consequences for A LIFETIME!!! No matter if there is “supporting data” or not!


  10. Ya it does hurt, very deeply. After my first wife (so far) had an affair I was hurt but tried to work things out. After the second I divorced her…


  11. Cheating in ANY way hurts everyone involved, but more the kids and the injured spouse. That Michael Formica person sure didn’t take that into account! And when this cheater finds out what s/he is missing in their first “relationship”, then what do they do? Slap the 2nd lover on the butt, say “It’s been real, it’s been fun but it sure ain’t been real fun, you take care now, y’hear?” and then just disappear? THAT person has feelings too!!! (Altho, if they know the other person is married, they deserve a little punishment dished out to them, as well, IMO. They knew better themselves!) There is NO cheating that will help ANY thing.

    And then how does the cheater view themselves? W/ loathing, self-hatred, ashamed, what good does that do for them?? They injure themselves in this whole thing too. It’s all around trouble and grief. Take it from someone who’s made it to my third marriage who wouldn’t break THAT bond for the devil and the world himself! No, I know what went wrong the first 2 times – once me (cheating believe it or not, so I KNOW what it did to my kids and a 1st ex that we’re now friends again), once him (mental and emotional abuse, but no cheating), by the third time I’d BETTER know better! 🙂

    It’s a buncha bushwa IMO. BTDT, *I* know the truth of the matter. He’s full of it.


  12. As someone who has been cheated on in marriage, I can testify it is the most devastating pain ever. Like a death with no funeral, no body, no closure. Still married, but it will never be the same!


    • I know the feeling… even though not still married, no closure… When I use to work at OU, a lady lost her husband to a sudden illness after I went through my divorce. She told me ‘I’m lucky mine has closure yours never does’…
      Although I keep throwing my hat back into the ring… no second so far…


  13. hahahahah!!! So funny when people talk about “undermining the family”

    NEWSFLASH!!!! Humans are not monogamous dummies… No matter what your antiquated religion says


    • “Antiquated religion”? Whatever, your opinion. It’s not obsolete to me and many others.

      “Monogamous dummies”? Again, your opinion. Many individuals have much respect for monogamous relationships.

      Lose your ego, I really don’t care about your opinion.


    • “antiquated religion”

      I expect nothing less from someone whose answers on Yahoo Answers include:

      1. “Gotta love religious folk…..icky”
      2. “as an unbeliever i would find it very difficult to be married to you…. all preachy and stuff”
      3. “I can see you laughing. In an insane asylum” (answering the question “Ever wondered if God has a sense of humor?”)
      4. “I believe Jesus mows my lawn” (answering the question “Who here believes in Jesus?”)

      Yes, it’s safe to conclude you definitely have a waaaaaay ginormous ego!


  14. lose your ego and realize that its not all about you, and your cheating partner cant hurt you..

    But most peoples egos are waaaaaay to ginormous for that


  15. It’s unfortunate that the steward of this blog, as well as its readers, were so roundly mislead by the version of the original article that appears here. This excerpted version (which was originally penned by Sarah Harrison and appeared on ‘’ in 2009 and has propagated as such since then) takes the original post out of context for the sake of sensationalist journalism. Most conspicuous (and deceptive) is the failure to include the last paragraph from the original–and I quote…

    “Yes, don’t cheat, don’t covet, don’t be naughty – but, if you are going to do your partner the disservice of stepping outside of your primary relationship, at least draw upon that disservice to prompt growth in both yourself and, potentially, the evolution and progression of that self-same primary relationship.”

    The point of the article was NOT to suggest that an affair can help a marriage, but rather that, properly positioned, the revelation of an affair can provide not only a starting point but also further encourage the repair and renewal of a bond that has been betrayed.

    For those readers who have regrettably taken a position without being fully informed, it might be helpful to read the original article, which can be found here:

    Kind regards,
    Michael J. Formica


    • Sir, I have NO problem taking back my condemnation of you and apologizing fully that I misunderstood you and did you wrong as well. I’m glad I had “follow comments” engaged in this conversation or I never would have been able to compare your post w/ mine!

      Please accept my apologies about your intent and/or focus. I do stand by the rest I said, I’ve been a cheater, I know who I hurt and what I lost and I, myself, am not so sure I could ever salvage a relationship that someone had cheated against me, (except that it would be fitting karma.) My husband and I actually got into a discussion about these things after this post, so honestly, even if your post was taken out of context, it did provoke a good discussion!! 🙂 Not that I needed one w/ him, but interesting none the less. (Our trust level is that high. We’ve been thru a LOT and we’re still together.)

      Regards, Christine


      • Hi, Christine,

        There’s no need for an apology, as the entire misunderstanding–yours and others–was prompted by things way beyond anyone’s control. But, thank you, nonetheless.

        What is more important is that the original post, as well as the excerpted version appearing here, has prompted so much discussion (the original post has more than 10,000 page views, alone. Who knows about this one.). Hopefully, some, if not most, of those conversations have had a positive outcome.

        At any rate, thanks, again and be well–both of you.

        Kinds regards,
        Michael J. Formica


    • Well, that’s YourTango for you… they’d suggest one-night stands to loosen-up those “uptight” Amish folk, by golly!


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